Verizon won’t shut off email as soon as you feared – USA TODAY
Q. Whatâs the deal with Verizonâs e-mail deactivation policy? Do I have to keep reading my messages on its site to keep my account active?
A. The reader who sent this question got an e-mail from Verizon late last year with a somewhat foreboding warning that âif you havenât accessed your verizon.net email account in over 180 days, your email account will be deleted and cannot be reactivated.â
Her e-mail, like the one I received, cited only one way to avoid that fate: âlog in to webmail.verizon.com from a computer and check your email within the next 30 days.â
But if youâve been logging into that site every few weeks, just to preserve your e-mail address, you donât need to. An e-mail policy document clarifies that getting your messages in an app like the Mail program on an iPhone or a Mac still counts, as does going into Verizonâs web-mail site to set up automatic forwarding of your Verizon e-mail to another address.
Further, any of those kinds of access resets the expiration date on your Verizon e-mail account to 180 days. Only after those 180 days expire without you touching your e-mail should you get another nag to check your account within 30 days or else.
If youâd switched long ago to a third-party e-mail service, you may not place much of a value on the address your Internet provider gave you. But are you sure you havenât listed that old e-mail as a recovery account for Google or any other services that you do use all the time? Please verify that before deciding to ignore that e-mail account into oblivion.
The other part of my readerâs question was simpler: Why bother instituting a policy like this? Whatâs the problem Verizonâs trying to solve?
âWeâve got a large number of these âinactiveâ email accounts so it makes sense to institute the new policy,â wrote Verizon spokesman Ray McConville when I asked about this in December. âDeleting a mailbox after 180 days reduces the risk of it being compromised and later used by a third party, reducing the risk of data exposure.â
Thatâs not a theoretical risk, as re-reading a 2013 exchange with a reader reminded me. This person had switched Internet providers, but the e-mail account sheâd had through her old ISP had somehow not been closed.
Unfortunately, that address had also long since been taken over by hackers and abused for spam. My reader had not been able to convince her old ISP — SBC, the regional phone company that renamed itself AT&T after buying up enough pieces of the old Bell System — to close the account.
Postings on an AT&T tech-support forum indicated that my reader wasnât alone in experiencing this problem. Iâd asked an AT&T publicist to look into my readerâs issue, and that finally resolved things.
So while Verizon could have communicated this policy better, I will allow that having a zombie e-mail address can be a real issue. And I will suggest two other options Verizon should add. First, Iâd like to see a way for Internet subscribers who donât want verizon.net e-mail accounts to disable them immediately. Second, its filtering options would benefit from a setting to accept only messages from designated senders — for example, those sites at which a Verizon e-mail serves as a recovery account.